Johnny Fryer made cover for The British Surfing Magazine Wavelength, issue Sept 168 in 2007.
The article to go with the cover shot was entitled ‘The Magnificent 7 ride’. It was a piece about a boat trip to Indonesia with a selection of Britain’s best surfers Oli Adams, Gary & Danny Wells, Isaac Kibblewhite, Matty Capel, Spencer Hargreaves and the Islands own Johnny Fryer. The purpose of the trip ‘to delve into the minds of said surfers and give you the opportunity to get to know some of our nations finest’.
Here is the bit about Johnny
I’m in a small cabin about 6′ x 3′ x 3′, the boat us rocking along on its way to HT’s in the Mentawai Islands and I’m jammed in this space with the Isle of Wight’s Johnny Fryer, one of Britain’s best contest surfers. Most surfers outside the UK don’t really believe that our country gets any waves and within our own surfing community I doubt many of us would think of the Isle of Wight when we think of surfing in the UK. So on a grand scale Johnny’s home break Compton Bay, is pretty close to bottom in terms of world spots. However Johnny has shown that grit and determination coupled with an intense passion can take you from back waters to the forefront of international surfing.
Johnny grew up on the family farm in the middle of the island some 20 minutes from the beach. During a family holiday to Cornwall when he was five he discovered surfing and got his first board when he was six. He used to surf with a healthy crop of grommets down at Compton Bay such as Douglas Richards and Ian Pacey. Due to the location local surfers would wish for strong onshores to come and blow some chop up the channel. Often Johnny would find himself out there taming the slop alone, on the better days local surfers such as Craig Sharp, Nick Dennington, and Timmy Dyer would provide the young Fryer with inspiration in the water and the desire to go and explore the surfing world off the isle.
At age 11 he started to surf off the island when his mum began taking him to contests in Newquay and thrived in this new environment with more talented surfers to inspire him and experience in better waves.Johnny’s mum would even take him to Newquay for the day to surf, leaving early in the morning on the ferry and returning late at night. Soon the dedication paid off. His competitive success began with a victory in both the under 12 and under 14 divisions of the Headworx Pro Junior in Newquay and a first place in the under 12’s at the British Nationals, This really fueled Fryers flame; “from then I was right into it and I didn’t really stop, I did every contest I could”. After winning the British Junior title 3 years in a row, on each occasion he would raise his game to ensure he kept his crown. Even so Johnny he would still return to the Isle of Wight to practice and train but this proved difficult as his style or technique would sometimes become confused without people to look up to or surf with. He would relish the onset of a new contest season as a chance to test himself against the best and put right any glitches in his act.
Johnny describes his competitiveness not so much as desire to beat his opponents but as a determination to prove things to himself. Even with his successes he continues to be critical of his surfing and is constantly trying to improve. This is shown through Johnny’s recent performance in the Scottish leg of the WQS where he came up against some of the worlds, best including ratings leader Tiago Pires and was victorious through several rounds of the main event. Even though he didn’t win he was pleased with his result as he felt he had performed to the best of his abilities and hadn’t let anyone, including himself, down.
Now, he has relocated to Newquay from the Isle of Wight to continue his surfing, As time has passed he has been spending less and less time at home due to contest or travel commitments and so the move has evolved rather than been a conscious decision. Still calling the isle home he returns when he can but these opportunities are few and far between.
Being one of the few British surfers who is able to surf full time thanks to the backing of his sponsors, he is increasingly involved in the photo side of professional surfing as this is the most productive area in terms of ensuring coverage for his sponsors. However his competitive desire and wish to continue to test him self against the best is still integral to his surfing and hopes that at some point he will be able to compete on the WQS full time to see how far he can push himself.
With the move to the significant more consistent Cornish coast Johnny’s surfing is maturing as he is able to branch out into more high risk surfing that he would not have previously attempted when every wave counted back at Compton Bay. He relishes the opportunity to ‘try new stuff for a whole session and not make a thing as there will be waves again the next day’ in which he can keep his contest knives sharp. In a sense Johnny has come at professional and contest surfing at a different angle to most, growing up on the Isle of Wight with his competitive spirit made him into ‘safe surfer’ ensuring he made the most out of each wave. Now that he is able to travel to surf and enjoy consistent waves the flair and expression of a truly talented surfer is shining through. With his surfing act coming together and maturing Johnny may well continue to surprise himself and others with just how well a farmer from the Isle of Wight can do when he puts his mind to it!
We hope to do our own piece on Johnny in the future if we are able to catch up with him.